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January 25 , 2005

AWARDS IN MUNICH AND CANNES

On January 24th, Manfred Eicher and ECM had the unusual distinction of being honoured at two awards ceremonies, held simultaneously in two countries.

In Germany, Manfred Eicher received the Cultural Prize of the City of Munich, the “Kultureller Ehrenpreis 2004”. He is the first record producer to have received this award, previous recipients over the years including composers Hans Werner Henze, Werner Egk and Carl Orff, musicians Carlos Kleiber, Bruno Walther, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Peter Jonas, filmmakers Michelangelo Antonioni and Alexander Kluge, writers Golo Mann, Erich Kästner and Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Wolfgang Koeppen and Joachim Kaiser, architect Mies van der Rohe, physicist Werner Heisenberg, painter Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, and other distinguished figures across the arts and sciences.

The ceremony, held at Munich’s historicTown Hall, was launched by clarinettist Gianluigi Trovesi and accordionist Gianni Coscia - playing material from their forthcoming album “Round About Weill”. The two Italians later joined cellist Anja Lechner in performances of music by Carl Friedrich Abel and Komitas as well as spontaneous improvisation.

After an introductory speech by Christian Ude, Mayor of Munich, the laudation was given by last year’s winner, Sir Peter Jonas, General Director of the Bavarian State Opera. Then Manfred Eicher spoke, about formative experiences and about some of the musicians, composers and directors who have influenced his production philosophy.

Guests included friends from near and far, amongst them ECM artists Eberhard Weber, Christoph Poppen, Gideon Lewensohn, Thomas Larcher and the Rosamunde Quartet.

Meanwhile, in the South of France, ECM distribution chief Heino Freiberg collected two MIDEM Classical Awards on behalf of Heinz Holliger, András Schiff and Miklós Perényi. The awards were for the New Series albums featuring Holliger’s Violin Concerto and Ysaÿe’s 3rd violin sonata (played by Thomas Zehetmair), and the Schiff/Perenyi recording of Beethoven’s complete music for piano and violoncello.

In a statement, Heinz Holliger said he viewed the award, in the Contemporary Music category, for his album as “a sign of respect for the courageous repertoire policies of Manfred Eicher and the unique artistic accomplishment of Thomas Zehetmair.”

And András Schiff said, “In the name of Miklós Perényi and myself, I would like to express our joy and gratitude for having received this most prestigious award. Our thanks go to Manfred Eicher of ECM Records for his support, Stephan Schellmann for the splendid engineering and, last but not least –Ludwig van Beethoven for making the world a better place.” The Schiff/Perenyi disc was the winner in the Chamber Music category.